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Mayo master Keane savours success

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GETTING TO GRIPS Mayo’s Joe Keane tries to get away from Sligo’s Morgan McCormack during Saturday’s All-Ireland Gaelic Masters Football Final in Ballymote. Pic: Martin McIntyre

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Ger Flanagan

TO most people last Saturday’s All-Ireland Gaelic Masters Association Final in Ballymote is a world away from September’s All-Ireland senior championship decider at Croke Park.
But for Crossmolina’s Joe Keane, a member of Stephen Rochford’s backroom team and a key forward with the Mayo Masters, the two All-Ireland Finals are cut from the same cloth in many ways.
Keane, an All-Ireland club winner with the Deel Rovers in 2001, won his second All-Ireland Masters medal against Sligo last weekend, so needless to say he’s a big advocate for the grade.
But he smiled as he admitted that the All-Ireland senior final defeat to Dublin seemed a distant memory on a wet, cold November day in Ballymote.
“Dublin is a different world away and this is a different world away from the football in Dublin,” laughed Keane when he spoke to The Mayo News.
“When I came back from that [the All-Ireland final], John Pat Sheridan says to me: ‘How does it feel to be at highest of the high in front of 80,000 and then down here to train with the lowest of the low’?
“But it doesn’t feel like that. Masters football is great. So many fellas are fit now at 40. There are a lot of lean fellas out there and it’s a credit.
“There’s a huge appetite for it and it’s only growing to be honest. Great credit must go to John Pat [Sheridan] for keeping it going through tough times. If the GAA could get behind it I think it would be an even bigger success.”
The Crossmolina attacker came off the bench midway through the first half and had an instant impact. His high work rate had him covering every blade of grass, just like the old days.
The Castlebar-based Garda had two goal chances saved, before teeing up fellow Garda, Kieran Lavelle, with a humdinger of a pass for what would be the game-changing score.
“It was physical and as you can see by walking on the pitch, you would sink in it, you certainly wouldn’t put animals in on it this time of year,” he joked.
“It was a really, really tough, hard game with scores hard to come by.
“The goal was the difference in the end. “I had two chances and I messed them up but thankfully we got one to win in the end. I just saw the defender going one way and [Kieran] Lavelle going the other, and I said, ‘Hopefully it will work!’ Thank God it did.”
Keane will now turn his attention back to his role with the Mayo senior team, assisting with coaching and analysis as they prepare for the 2018 season,
“We’re hoping to get back, probably get a few new fellas in to have a look at throughout the FBD League and maybe the earlier rounds of the National League,” he said.
“Anything can happen in three or four months and when January comes around, eight or nine weeks away, anything can happen.
“But I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a huge opportunity for me and I’m delighted that Stephen [Rochford] gave me the opportunity. Who wouldn’t want to work with this Mayo team? I don’t think there is anybody in Mayo who wouldn’t want to work with them.”

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